Wednesday 22 May 2024

Last day in Rotterdam

For our final day we started out with a quick walk to the waterway close to our weird upside down room.

We found a really high bridge which was nice,

however, even better than that was a barge that instead of a sail it had an enormous metal bird that fluttered in the wind.

I am hoping that Darren will take up a new metalworking hobby, as I would really love one in my garden.

Onwards then to the main event of the day.

Darren found an article on line written by a Rotterdam local, and we spent all day following it to the letter.

As you can see, there is water everywhere, with different size waterways ranging from a metre wide, to an enormous meandering river.

We crossed the widest part by going deep underground and along a tunnel. In England you aren't allowed to take bikes on escalators, but over here everyone did.

We whizzed along the tunnel and then back up another escalator and out in to the sunshine.

Some of the route was industrial, a lot was residential and other bits were just beautiful.

Back in Rotterdam we stopped about half a kilometre short of the Eurostar station to get some snacks for the journey.

Hopping back on the bikes Darren discovered that he had a puncture - the only one of the holiday - and he just had time to repair it before it was time to check in.




Monday 20 May 2024

Kralingse Bos extra parkrun

It's Holland's extra parkrun day today, hence our reason for being in The Netherlands. (Apart from it being a fantastic country that is only a three hour train ride from London.)

It was a 40 minute walk to the start, and the weather was dry and bright for the first two minutes. Then it drizzled for about another minute before turning into a full on downpour, with bursts of thunder just to add a bit of excitement.

There was nothing that we could do to try to keep dry, and even if we had dashed back to our hotel we had no umbrellas or wet weather gear.

However, after a final torrential almost cloudburst during the parkrun briefing, it stopped just after we started running.

The course was lovely, and I rushed round 50 seconds faster than on Saturday. Probably because I was keen to get out of the cold and into a hot shower.

Once I had warmed up we took a stroll around the old boats in the marina.

Later in the afternoon we went to see one of those weird immersive experiences where they project photos and videos all around you.

This was called Remastered and showcased famous Dutch artists through the ages.

It started by putting us in a giant interactive fish tank and you could touch the shoals of fish on the walls, and they would then swim away from you.

Next they said 'from now on DO NOT touch the walls', which seemed a bit of a shame.

It started a clock show, where all of the timepieces jumped about on the walls, and then all started ringing and bonging together.

Then the main event started with the famous artists. I didn't recognise the first two and there was a loud musical soundtrack, but unfortunately no words so I never found out.

I don't know this one, but it could just be evolution from the start of time. It certainly doesn't look like Holland.

I don't know this one either, perhaps Dutch legends?

Also a mystery 

Rembrandt 

Vermeer

Van Gogh - I'm on a roll now

Mondrian, and this is the end.

Quick drink by the river afterwards.

Sunday 19 May 2024

The windmills of Kinderdijk

Another cycle ride today, and we left Rotterdam in bright sunshine and excellent cycling weather.

After a few kilometres we reached the ferry that would take us across across the water to the Kinderdijk.

The ferry journey only took about five minutes and cost one euro, and there was far more bicycles on board than cars.

Once on the other side it was a short cycle ride to the 19 windmills.

I have looked back on my blog and we visited here in September 2018. Not only that but it was also a beautiful day, we caught the exact same ferry, and took the same photos, and then a similar route to Rotterdam.

So to avoid repeating myself, I will have to try and say something a bit different about this lovely place, so here are a few facts lacking from last time.

* The windmills were built between 1738 and 1740 to help drain water from the surrounding fields.

* Some of the windmills are still in use, but most of the water is pumped nowadays by two diesel pumping stations.

* The windmills are one of the most famous sights in Holland and the whole area is a UNESCO world heritage site.

In keeping with the rest of Holland, there are immaculate cycle paths all across the site, and we followed the route to a nice town with an excellent café and intriguing monument.

After that we cycled back to Rotterdam, but this time we managed to cycle through lots of industrial estates, although they were very nice in their own way.

Saturday 18 May 2024

Delft and Stayokay hostel

It's Saturday today and we initially came to Holland to do a parkrun course starting with a Z, but we were warned that if too many people turned up at the same place with the same idea, then it might have to be cancelled.

So instead of risking it, we ran at a lovely course within walking distance of our hotel.

Afterwards we checked out of our hotel and had another great cycle ride back to Rotterdam.

This was where things began to get 'interesting'. 

About six years ago we did a similar cycle ride and went to see a very famous architect designed housing estate where the buildings are upside down.

We were very taken with it and thought what fun it would be to someday stay in one of them.

So here we are, and this is our room.

Well, it's surprising how wrong we can sometimes be!! It's not fun, it's weird and uncomfortable and with a massive pillar in the middle of the room!

The floor space is very small and the walls go outwards at a 45 degree angle. The ceiling is massive, but you can't put furniture up there, and the windows face downwards so let in very little light.

It also has a spare set of bunk beds and no telly.

It's in the great central location though, and there is a bar in a weird shaped room downstairs.

There is also a fantastic building across the road. It is shaped like a massive tunnel and this is the ceiling.

Each of the black squares are windows to rooms at unusual angles. It makes me wonder what it might be like to stay there, but on second thoughts I don't think that we need to find out.

Friday 17 May 2024

Holland on Eurostar

It's off to Holland for a long weekend of cycling and running.

We started yesterday with an afternoon train from the not very glamorous Bicester North station to Marylebone.

For the evening entertainment we went to the theatre to see 'Standing at the sky's edge'. This was a brilliant new musical about three different families living in a tower block in Sheffield.

This sounds extremely unglamorous, which it was, but it was a great show and we stayed until the end three hours later, and didn't nod off once.

This is the set, a five story mock up of the flats taken from our seat on the front row.

Today the trip really started as we caught the 8.16am Eurostar from St Pancras station.

The train set off exactly on time and it quietly and efficiently delivered us to Rotterdam exactly on time.

Once we got out of the station we joined thousands of Dutch cyclists on the amazing network of cycle tracks, and set off for Delft. We crossed backwards and forwards over cycle bridges with lovely views of the flat countryside.


At the outskirts of Delft we got caught in a huge gridlock of cyclists waiting to get over a bridge, and then suddenly we were part of an enormous peloton chugging and weaving along a fairly narrow cycle path.

All went well until we had to do a left hand turn across the wall of cyclists heading our way, and the numerous cyclists coming towards us.

Darren managed it, but I got stuck and had to wait for ages by the side of the road before I could dash across. Quite a disconcerting experience.

However it was soon forgotten as we reached the market square and stopped for a couple of cherry beers before checking in at our hotel.




Sunday 7 April 2024

Wedding anniversary

It's our wedding anniversary today, so congratulations to us!!

We were thinking about going on an afternoon wine tasting tour, but then changed it to a dolphin watching and views of France trip instead.

First stop was the pretty little harbour at Rosel where we got off the bus.

This was on the north coast of the island and we hiked along the undulating coast round to the eastern side. This side is directly across the sea from Normandy.

But first came the dolphin viewing spot at St Catherine's breakwater.

We had been told by a local islander that it was a great viewing spot, but we looked really carefully, and there wasn't a dolphin, or beach ball or hoop in sight.

However, right on the horizon we could make out the feint coast of France, but it wasn't big enough to be able to be seen in our photos.

This is a great view though of the enormous breakwater, and you can imagine the coast of France beyond it.

As both highlights were not as high as originally hoped, I thought that a new high would be a shortcut across the long bay.

It looked gorgeous from a distance, and a lot of it was lovely sand, but gradually it turned wetter with water draining from rock pools higher up the beach.

It got to that stage where we had gone too far to turn back, but to head forwards meant getting even wetter feet, but I enjoyed it anyway.

Back on dry land we walked southwards with my shoes allegedly drying much quicker than Darren's.

Final stop for a late lunch was at Gorey with the huge Mont Orgueil Castle towering above us.